Daily Archives: April 13, 2011

President Obama’s Speech on Reducing the Budget this Afternoon (Full Text)

…here’s the truth. Around two-thirds of our budget is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security. Programs like unemployment insurance, student loans, veterans’ benefits, and tax credits for working families take up another 20%. What’s left, after interest on the debt, is just 12 percent for everything else. That’s 12 percent for all of our other national priorities like education and clean energy; medical research and transportation; food safety and keeping our air and water clean.

Up until now, the cuts proposed by a lot of folks in Washington have focused almost exclusively on that 12%. But cuts to that 12% alone won’t solve the problem. So any serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to put everything on the table, and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget. A serious plan doesn’t require us to balance our budget overnight ”“ in fact, economists think that with the economy just starting to grow again, we will need a phased-in approach ”“ but it does require tough decisions and support from leaders in both parties. And above all, it will require us to choose a vision of the America we want to see five and ten and twenty years down the road.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

Foundation Backing new Theology of Same Sex Unions Pours pours millions into Church Groups

Also in 2009, Arcus gave the communications firm of Douglas Gould and Company a grant of $194,200 to provide communications support to both the UM Reconciling Ministries Network and Lutherans Concerned to assist their efforts “to advance the full inclusion of LGBT people in the United Methodist Church and in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”

Here are several other Arcus grants from last year:

Church Divinity School of the Pacific: $404,351 “to develop official rites for the blessing of same-gender relationships within the Episcopal Church….”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

David Leonhardt–Congressional Gridlock could Help the Budget

In reality, finding a way to raise taxes may well be the central political problem facing the United States.

As countries become richer, their citizens tend to want more public services, be it a strong military or a decent safety net in retirement. This country is no exception. Yet our political culture is an exception. It has made most tax increases, even to pay for benefits people want, unthinkable.

This is where the Bush tax cuts come in. They have created a way for inertia to be fiscally responsible.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Seattle school renames Easter eggs 'Spring Spheres'

“I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay,” Jessica explained. “She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat ‘spring spheres.’ I couldn’t call them Easter eggs.”

Rather than question the decision, Jessica opted to “roll with it.” But the third graders had other ideas.

“When I took them out of the bag, the teacher said, ‘Oh look, spring spheres’ and all the kids were like ‘Wow, Easter eggs.’ So they knew,” Jessica said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Education, Religion & Culture

Cof E Press Release–Bishops act to tackle sham marriages

New guidance aimed at preventing sham marriages in the Church of England is being sent to clergy and legal officers by the House of Bishops. The guidance has been agreed with the UK Border Agency and was today approved by Immigration Minister Damian Green.

“The House of Bishops is clear,” said the Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, “that the office of Holy Matrimony must not be misused by those who have no intention of contracting a genuine marriage but merely a sham marriage. The purpose of this guidance and direction from the Bishops to the clergy and to those responsible for the grant of common licences is, therefore, to prevent the contracting of sham marriages in the Church of England.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

John Richardson–Bishops married to divorcees 'pose serious challenge to traditionalist Anglicans'

Despite the obvious difficulties this entailed, therefore, the Church of England sought until recently to adhere strictly to Jesus teaching, as regards both its members generally and its ministers in particular ”” a stance reflected precisely in the absence until now of specific guidance regarding the appointment of bishops.

For some people, therefore, the proposed consecration of Nicholas Holtam is a serious challenge to Church order. And indeed it may be ”” but the extent to which this is so clearly depends on the circumstances of his wife’s divorce….

However, there is another, and just as pressing, reason why the nomination of Mr Holtam causes difficulty for traditionalists. In 2005, at the height of the controversy over his consecration, Mr Holtam invited Bishop Gene Robinson to St Martin-in-the-Fields…

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Guardian) Why more and more women are using pornography

While it’s accepted that women are watching ”“ and enjoying ”“ porn more and more, it’s less recognised that some are also finding it hard to stop. At Quit Porn Addiction, the UK’s main porn counselling service, almost one in three clients are women struggling with their own porn use, says founder and counsellor Jason Dean. Two years ago, there were none.While more than six out of 10 women say they view web porn, one study in 2006 by the Internet Filter Review found that 17% of women describe themselves as “addicted”.

Dean says: “I remember getting my first woman contacts about two years ago and thinking that was fairly unusual. Now I’m hearing from about 70 women a year who are coming for their own reasons, not because their male partners have a problem.”

There is little difference in the way the genders become hooked, says Jason. There is the same pattern of exposure, addiction, and desensitisation to increasingly hardcore images. The main contrast between male and female porn addicts is how much more guilty women feel. “Porn addiction is seen as a man’s problem ”“ and therefore not acceptable for women,” says Dean. “There’s a real sense among women that it’s bad, dirty, wrong and they’re often unable to get beyond that.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Pornography, Women

Joe Nocera: Pass the Boone Pickens Bill

Every president since Jimmy Carter has called for the country to become more energy independent. Yet none of them have ever done anything to accomplish that. The result is that our reliance on foreign oil has inexorably increased. With the current turmoil in the Mideast, the price of gasoline breaking the $4-a-gallon barrier and the Chinese becoming voracious competitors for imported oil, this would seem an ideal time to pass a law that could lessen our dependence on foreign crude.

Oilmen are incorrigible optimists, and Boone is no exception; he thinks the bill will pass quickly. Not long ago, President Obama spoke out in favor of it, in a speech that included a shout-out for Boone. Already, the bill has attracted 157 co-sponsors. “I think the House can pass it in 30 days,” Boone says.

I hope he’s right. Natural gas is cheaper than oil. It’s cleaner. And it’s ours. If Congress can’t pass this thing, there’s really no hope. ”ƒ

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The U.S. Government

(McClatchy) Egypt's hard-line Islamists speak up, creating unease

At 2 a.m. on a tense night just before Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak was toppled, Yehia el Sherif and other members of his ad-hoc neighborhood watch group noticed a car carrying two men with long beards approach their checkpoint in the port city of Alexandria.

The watchmen didn’t order the car to stop ”” the men inside turned off the engine, offered a vehicle search and presented their ID cards without prompting, Sherif, a 21-year-old college student, recalled. After the search, the bearded men passed out pamphlets espousing the rigid ideology of the Salafis, an ultraconservative branch of Islam whose literalist interpretations are anathema to Muslim moderates and liberals.

The car sped off into the night, leaving Sherif and his neighbors slack-jawed as they realized the Salafis had engineered the episode as a chance to proselytize ”” they were driving the dark and menacing streets to spread the message that Islam was the only way out of Egypt’s political crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Craig McMurtrie on the American Debt Issue–The small problem of Armageddon

The scale of America’s deficit and debt problem is staggering.

Thanks to an ageing population, exploding health care costs and inaction from both sides of politics, the Government Accountability Office now estimates that the United States is looking down the barrel of a $90 trillion fiscal gap over the next 75 years.

Treasury secretary Tim Geithner estimates that the US is adding about $125 billion of debt each month and the nation is expected to hit its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling in May.

Former treasury secretary James Baker describes the “debt bomb” as the number one problem for America.

“If we didn’t have the dollar as the de facto reserve currency of the world, we’d be Greece. I mean we are broke,” he exclaimed on CNN.

But doing something about it would take real gumption and the political cycle isn’t helping….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(ENS) Presiding bishop leads service of repentance for sin of racism, slavery

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Race/Race Relations

(FT) US lacks credibility on debt, says IMF

The US lacks a “credible strategy” to stabilise its mounting public debt, posing a small but significant risk of a new global economic crisis, says the International Monetary Fund.

In an unusually stern rebuke to its largest shareholder, the IMF said the US was the only advanced economy to be increasing its underlying budget deficit in 2011, at a time when its economy was growing fast enough to reduce borrowing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Globalization, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Fathers for Good) Civil War–the Catholic Story

FFG: What side did the bishops take? How did the Vatican figure in?

Barnes: The archbishop of New York, “Dagger” John Hughes, who built St. Patrick’s Cathedral, was a very important figure in the northern war effort. He supported the Union. Abraham Lincoln consulted him a number of times during the war. And he was instrumental in calming New York after the draft riots.

On the southern side, there was the bishop of Charleston, S.C., Patrick Neeson Lynch. He was born in Ireland and emigrated to the United States as a young man and was ordained a priest in Charleston and ultimately became the bishop. He was a quite unapologetic Confederate, a strong supporter of the confederacy. In fact, the day Fort Sumter fell, he presided over a high Mass of thanksgiving in the cathedral. He, in a kind of mirror image of the way Lincoln treated Hughes, was quite influential in his own way in the Confederacy….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(La Times) Popular Egypt TV religious figure raises his sights

His 2.6 million fans on Facebook make him one of the site’s 75 most popular people. His television show borrows from Donald Trump’s. When he appears before thousands of adoring fans, he wears Hugo Boss suits and applies a little black makeup to his scalp to hide the gaps in his thinning hair.

Amr Khaled is the Arab world’s most successful televangelist, a charismatic guide for millions of Muslims.

His TV programs, audiotapes and DVDs have long been ubiquitous. Now, Egyptians are seeing him in the flesh once again after his return from eight years of exile in Britain.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who by the example of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ hast taught us the greatness of true humility, and dost call us to watch with him in his passion: Give us grace to serve one another in all lowliness, and to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

–W. E. Orchard

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

–John 10:7-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Douglas-Westwood warns Congress on Chinese oil & gas demand

In evidence to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Power’s hearing, April 4th, regarding the “The American Energy Initiative”, Douglas-Westwood LLP’s Managing Director, .Steve Kopits, gave dire warnings about the likely development of China’s future energy demand

“China’s oil demand will likely keep pressure on oil prices for the indefinite future,” said Kopits. “China consumes 10 million barrels of oil per day (mbpd) on global consumption of about 88 mbpd. …it is already the second biggest consumer of oil in the world …we see China surpassing US consumption levels around 2018.”

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization

Upcoming Blog meeting at Vatican getting buzz

Hundreds of bloggers have already made enquires about attending a special meeting being arranged by the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications on May 2nd, just after the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Officials say the meeting was proposed to establish a dialogue between the Church and the new media of blogging.

“If we look today where culture is strongly formed and shaped, it’s the blogosphere. Bloggers have an enormous influence, ties an important community, its an important category, so its right that there to be a meeting of bloggers within the Church in order for the Church to take account of this reality, to dialogue with it, to listen to it, to listen to it, to be aware of it,” says Dr. Richard Rouse, an official at the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Media, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Jerusalem Area Christian leaders: ban on Anglican bishop and new taxes are unjust

The heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem have come out against the Israel’ government’s denial of a residency permit in the city to the Anglican (Episcopalian) bishop Suheil Dawani. At the same time, they have renewed their protest against government attempts to impose new taxes on churches, something which was excluded by the UN, and in centuries of their presence had never occurred before not even at the founding of the State of Israel.

In a statement released in recent days, the church leaders (which includes patriarchs, bishops, the head of the Custody of the Holy Land) defend Bishop Dawani’s ” right to religious freedom,” to “reside with his family in the holy city.”

Bishop Dawani was born in Nablus in the West Bank and is considered a “foreigner” in East Jerusalem, a territory occupied by Israel and where the Cathedral and Anglican curia are located. He may reside there only with special permission which has been denied him by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Israel, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Religion & Culture, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Sean Gonsalves on a recent Presentation by Stephen Prothero in Massachusetts

[ Boston University Department of Religion professor Stephen Prothero] started by pointing to some of the obvious irreconcilable differences, from the spiritual atheism of Buddhism to the chasm separating monotheistic and polytheistic faith traditions.

Not only does the liberal theological spin of the essential sameness of all religion constitute a stumbling block to the truth, it also trivializes what adherents of different faiths consider to be ultimately significant. In other words ”” and this may be an understatement ”” to say that particular pillars of faith, of a particular faith tradition, are not as important as the things they share in common is, well, condescending.

To act as if the divinity of Christ and the Quran as the revealed word of Allah are ultimately trivial differences you can paper over by getting a bunch of liberal Christians and Muslims to agree on a “God is love” document, or some other feely-touchy joint statement, is a slap in the face to the masses who hold these conflicting testimonies as central to their faith.
It’s not only condescending, Prothero said, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because reducing all religions to one common truth “makes it impossible to understand the most intractable conflicts in the world today” ”” the Middle East and Kashmir being just two popular examples.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

CSM–Fort Sumter cannons sound again: the Civil War 150 years later

But even putting political hyperbole aside, the Civil War does still very much inform the American experience. The emancipation of blacks is not quite resolved and the disagreements between Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln throw their long shadows across issues like health-care reform and entitlements. Moreover, the tea party, promoting small government, has risen to challenge the post-Civil War view of government as a superior, benevolent force of good.

After the Civil War, “the older Jeffersonian tradition was suppressed by the new Lincolnian vision of a unitary nationalist regime, and it was never able to digest the Jeffersonian tradition,” says Donald Livingston, a philosophy professor at Emory University in Atlanta. “But it’s still there, suppressed, in the memory of Americans. What’s interesting about the South is that it held onto the Jeffersonian tradition longer ”“ which is why you can’t understand America today without seeing this deep conflict between these two groups.”

Indeed, 56 percent of Americans, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, believe the Civil War remains relevant. That’s partly because of its overarching themes, but also because it remains a deeply personal conflict for many Americans: One out of 17 Americans ”“ or about 18 million ”“ can claim a direct line to someone who fought in the war. “It really wasn’t that long ago,” says Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, a Southern nationalist group in Killen, Ala.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Race/Race Relations